Nature of Robinson Crusoe is Demonstrated Through “Homo Economicus”

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This initial situation along with the other inevitable circumstances paved the way to Crusoe to land in an isolated land. So in the novel, Defoe vividly illustrates the “individualistic” nature of Crusoe. When he reaches the shores, he suddenly curse and ruin himself for his existence. This denotes one aspect of human nature; ungrateful. But, once he starts to learn and enjoy his ownership of the island, he focuses on preserving his life. Crusoe shows primary concepts of human nature analyzed by Thomas Hobbes and John Locke; “defense” and “resistance”.

With the time, Crusoe settles in the island well and obtain the ownership of the plantations, properties and build his own house; “my castle”. As claimed by philosopher, John Locke, Crusoe rewards himself for the ownership of the land because of his hard work. The individualistic human nature of Crusoe has been intensified by his impatience to have immediate results from his hard attempts and his intimacy with respective philosophical ideologies. Through the isolation of Crusoe in the island, Defoe portrays diverse elements of individualism. Mainly, the individualistic nature of Robinson Crusoe is demonstrated through “homo economics” or “an economic man” (Watt, P 64) aspect. As there are no any laws or social pressure, Crusoe experiences unlimited freedom to satisfy his interests, so he enjoys and functions total “Laissez-faire” in the island.

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“All Defoe’s heroes pursue money” (Watt, P 62) is a valid stance, because Crusoe’s traveling to his Brazilian plantations, however, the ship was wrecked and become the sole survivor in the island and he considers the island as the primary property to be developed for his use.

It can be argued that one he starts to settle in the island, he did not want to adjust himself to the new and wild environment, but her tries to change the environment according to his social and economical background. It is evident that Crusoe wants to reflect and represent his lifestyle in England through the island. In his regular diary he states how he attempts to make his island more comfortable to him. The lines, “November 6 – After my morning walk I went to work with my table again, and finished it” and “November 7 – I took wholly up to make me a chair” (Defoe, p 75) show his utter efforts to recreate his life although he does not have enough experiences and skills. At the same time he creates and expands his own house to his “castle”, “November 17 – This day I began to dig behind my tent into the rock to make a room for my further convenience” (Defoe, p 75) illustrates that his efforts are for his individual benefits.

So when he found himself isolated in the island, he swims back to the ship and carry many components that can be useful for him. After the creation of his new home he makes a calendar and maintains a diary to keep a count about the passing time. As Watt argues, “Defoe sets back the economic clock and take his hero to a primitive environment” (p 71) shows how Crusoe initiate his own style of daily routine. These incidents show “an average individual life under the division of labor as interesting and inspiring”. At the same time, Crusoe had a good sense of consciousness when he was living in the island. He always uses reasoning and work hard for his individual protection from somebody. Although he lived alone in the island for 20 years, “January 3 – I began my fence or wall, which being still jealous of my attacked by somebody, I resolved to make very thick and strong” (Defoe, p78) depicts another aspect of economic individualism through the lens of “imperialism”.

He starts to manufacture his cloths from skins of animals and sets up a farm to obtain as much as food he wants. Although clothing is a simple example of self-protection, it also reminds Crusoe’s identity of a civilized man because he used to have cloths though he lives alone in the island. He begins to dry and preserve some food for the consumption during rainy season. More evidence of Crusoe’s self-reliance emerges in his efforts to bake his own bread. With the expansion of his cultivations, Crusoe learns to make pottery. Although the outcome is quite ugly, he expresses great pride in his ability to do it and he experiments on having better results than the previous situation. He manages to satisfy his needs through a limited number of available alternatives. On the other hand it can be argued that, the idea of an individual economy makes him less emotional and selfish to a certain extent. The incident of killing a goat which has a baby goat in her side illustrates the idea that emotions should not allow overcoming reason, as the meat of two animals feed him for several days.

Apart from this simple economic aspect of Crusoe’s life, it can be analyzed through a deep way through capitalism. “Karl Marx in Das Kapital (1867) uses Robinson Crusoe as a favorable example of the pre-capitalist man producing goods because they are useful and producing only as much as is useful to him and not seeking a profit” (2013). The complex theory of Karl Marx mirrors the protagonist of the novel as a potential capitalist. Apart from Marx, Ian Watt interprets the novel through a close economic view. He links the unpredicted land of Crusoe to a deserted island with the rise of the middle class. With the time, when Crusoe establishes his permanent settlement in the island, he himself labeled as the owner of the properties and plantations in the island. So according to the philosophy of John Locke, Crusoe can states his ownership as he has worked hard, “.. this was all my own, that I was king and lord of all this country indefeasibly and had a right of possession and I could convey it I might have it in inheritance as completely as any lord” (Defoe, P46).

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